According to a recent New York Times article titled “Who Spewed that Abuse? Anonymous Yik Yak isn’t Telling” (which can be read here), Kenyon is far from the only college that has faced hate speech on the anonymous app Yik Yak.
The Times piece mentions Kenyon’s problems with the app, specifically the Yak made about a proposed “gang bang” at the Crozier Center for Women, which was just one of many hateful and threatening Yaks directed at Crozier and Take Back the Night. This anonymous hate-speech generated a lot of anti-Yik Yak sentiment on campus, with articles about the issue appearing on the Thrill and in the Collegian; a reference to the Thrill piece was made in an article about the app on the Huffington Post in an article about why campuses should ban Yik Yak.
Kenyon is listed as just another example of hate speech peddled by the app, with reports being made of racist Yaks at Clemson University, demeaning and sexually explicit Yaks about professors at Eastern Michigan University, and a student being singled out and called a “hippo” in a Yak at Middlebury College. And these are just a handful of examples of the many racist, misogynistic, and homophobic Yaks made since the app became popular.
The app, which is less than two years old, has generated so much controversy at colleges and high schools that administrators have sought ways to ban it, though no administrative action has been taken against the app at Kenyon. Yik Yak can be banned from a school’s wireless network, but students can still access it via their cellular data plans. After complaints were made by high school administrators, Yik Yak has prevented access at the vast majority of middle and high schools in the country. Banning the app, however, can be considered a free speech issue. Yik Yak protects the anonymity of its users above all else, and will only release the identity of a Yakker if a subpoena or other court order is issued, or if law enforcement can make a case that harm is imminent, which led the the arrest of a user who threatened a school shooting at Michigan State University.
For now, however, Yik Yak is still going strong, having just received an investment of over $60 million.